When you are buying a used vehicle, especially from a private seller, it is your sole responsibility to verify the health and condition of the vehicle.
You have to make sure that the car is not a lemon, nor is it salvaged or stolen. It is a huge responsibility as a wrong decision could inflict financial losses.
VIN decoders will help you to obtain information regarding a vehicle so that you can ensure that the actual condition of the vehicle matches the description by the seller.
Here are some of the most useful VIN decoders that have an extensive database that ranges across the globe. They can provide you with information such as mileage, insurance, issues, etc.
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CarVertical utilizes a blockchain-based system to obtain information with a VIN. It collects information from numerous global databases such as NMVTIS, insurance, and auction records to bring you the latest and up-to-date information.
VinPit is one of the best websites that provide an all-in-one solution to buyers looking for information about a used car. They provide all the information like safety recalls, accident data, registration, etc. On top of that, they provide market value and vehicle inspection.
CARFAX claims to be one of the largest cross-border VIN databases, possessing over 22 billion records. However, CARFAX does not offer detailed reports, and the data can be changed by customers or dealerships to edit the facts.
EpicVIN provides verified real-time information for a VIN or license plate. They provide all kinds of information such as title, model, accident information, and other details about the vehicle. They also validate this information.
Bumper is a popular tool to obtain vehicle information with a VIN. It collects data from various state-level departments and also from auction, insurance, and scrap yard records. They provide all sorts of information from the model to accident records and market value.
Cebia is a website and app-based platform that can be used to check vehicle details with VIN. Cebia works with retailers, importers, insurance, and leasing companies and possesses a massive archive of more than one billion documents. Ceiba is especially useful for obtaining information regarding vehicles in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
ClearVIN provides valuable information for buyers of used vehicles. The information includes repair records, owner details, insurance, etc. It offers a money-back guarantee in the case of an error in a report.
AutoDNA provides an Experian-based car VIN check in collaboration with AutoCheck. It brings details of used cars from both Europe and the US. It has more than 4 trillion statistics and records of more than half a billion vehicles in its database
Why is VIN so Important?
A VIN or Vehicle Identification Number is the unique 17-digit alphanumeric code allotted to every car by auto manufacturers around the world. It is stamped into the chassis of a car which is why it is also referred to as a chassis number.
Every car rolling out of the assembly line is required to have one. It serves as a fingerprint for your car because no two cars can have the same VIN. It can be decoded using a VIN decoder to obtain all information about that car.
VIN can be used to learn about the past of a vehicle. If the vehicle was in an accident and needed repairs or did an oil change, it should be recorded using the vehicle’s VIN. It can be helpful in instances where you might need to verify the details provided by a seller for a used vehicle, or if you want to gather more information about a vehicle.
Unlike a registration number, the VIN remains permanent throughout the lifetime of a vehicle. So you can rely on it to obtain accurate information even decades after production.
What Can You Check with a VIN Decoder?
VIN can be constituted by a wide range of numbers and letters varying due to regional regulations. It might seem like just a random combination of letters and numbers. But it always follows an internationally accepted format. Each digit indicates information specific to that vehicle.
The first character indicates the country of origin. For example, if the first character is 1,4, or 5, it means that the vehicle was manufactured in the US. If the vehicle was manufactured in Japan, it would be J, and S if in England.
The second and third characters indicate the manufacturer, manufacturing division, and vehicle type. Usually, the second character is the first letter of the manufacturer. For example, B for BMW, G for GM, H for Honda, etc. However, some manufacturers such as Jaguar, Mitsubishi, and Audi use A as the second character.
The digits from fourth to eighth represent the model, engine, transmission, and body type.
The ninth digit ensures the credibility of a VIN. The number is the result of a formula created by the US Department of Transportation to verify that the VIN is not fraudulent.
The tenth digit represents the year in which the vehicle was manufactured. It can be a number or alphabet depending on the year. For example, if the vehicle was manufactured in 2001, it would be 1 and if it was manufactured in 2021, it would be M.
The eleventh digit will show the manufacturing plant in which it was made.
The digits from twelfth to seventeenth is the vehicle’s identification number unique to every vehicle.
All of this information can be very hard to decode without the help of a VIN decoder. In addition to this, VIN decoders can provide important information that can come in handy, especially if you are planning on buying a used car.
When buying a used car, it is good practice to run a check on the vehicle’s VIN to make sure that you are not buying a defective car. Check whether the seller is being honest about the details, such as the number of owners or major repairs.
You can verify if the vehicle has ever been in an accident, or whether the recalled parts were replaced. If the vehicle was not repaired or replaced as part of the recall, you will have to do that to prevent accidents and injuries.
Manufacturers often recall some models if they find any significant risk to the health and safety of their customers. They send out emails to notify the users regarding the recall but, sometimes, these go unnoticed. Getting the vehicle repaired ensures that it is as safe as possible.
If the vehicle registration number or any other detail does not match with the details provided by the seller, it can potentially be a stolen vehicle. Car thieves take the VIN from one car and transplant it onto another to hide them. It is called VIN cloning.
Where do VIN Decoders Get the Information from?
VIN decoders gather information from several databases. Almost all governments around the world keep an extensive database of the vehicles sold in their country. Many manufacturers, dealerships, auto repair shops, and insurance companies may also keep the information regarding the vehicles that they come across.
Many of these databases can be easily accessed by the public, so the VIN decoders search through several databases to find the best and latest results.
Why is Paid VIN Decoder Better?
There are numerous free VIN decoders on the internet that can provide you with some information about the vehicle. They will include only the major issues like a salvage title.
If you want to extract the complete information about a vehicle, you will have to pay a nominal fee to access it. It will get you more information like the number of prior owners.
The investment is worth it if you are considering buying a used car because you can ensure that you are getting the best deal and will not fall for scams.
Where Can You Find Your VIN Number?
These are some of the common spots where the VIN could be:
- In the engine bay next to the hood latch
- Driver’s side door frame
- Bottom corner of the windshield on the driver’s side
- Vehicle title
- Owner’s manual
- Vehicle registration card
Is VIN Decoder Always 100% Accurate?
VIN decoders can only guarantee information such as make, model, year of production, color, etc. For the VIN decoder to show information such as accidents or oil changes, whoever is performing those tasks (Auto Repair shops or other authorities that conduct checks) should update that information in some database.
Therefore in some cases, you might not get the latest report for variables such as mileage because they have not been updated recently. And in some cases, this information about some accidents may never get updated.
Only a handful of VIN decoders take the time to verify the information that they have and in many cases, verifying the information can be very difficult.
When you are buying a used car, you should keep this in mind and assess the condition thoroughly with the help of a professional and test drive before making a decision.